Steam Greenlight Spotlight: Reprisal
Reprisal is a real-time strategy god game that pays homage to the 1989 classic Populous. Like Populous, Reprisal does not grant you direct control over its people, but rather allows you to manipulate terrain and call forth divine powers to indirectly control your followers and wipe out enemy factions. Populous is widely considered as the very first god game, and while many god games have come since, Reprisal is the first to really capture the essence of the genre. Reprisal is not like Black & White or the recent Reus, where you have large creature under your command to help you do your bidding – this is just you and the elements: earth, wind, fire.
Keeping in line with the nostalgia aspect, Reprisal uses a tilt-shift pixel art style. "Tilt-shift" is a technique you commonly see with those images of "faked miniatures" – in real world application, it's literally tilting and shifting the camera as to shoot from an off-angle. Doing so affects what is in focus and the depth of field blur. Reprisal uses an isometric view with blurred edges to capture this tilt-shift look. Though many people feel pixel art is overdone in indie games these days, it really lends itself quite well to this game and the tiled nature of the terrain works perfectly with the terraforming (though it can be a bit finicky). This is a good thing since terraforming will be your predominant power throughout the game, flattening land for your followers to build and expand or eventually connecting your settlements to neighboring islands to further expand and/or conquer neighboring tribes.
Reprisal features 30 campaign islands compared to Populous' 500 levels. But to make up for that disparity, Reprisal also features a Skirmish Mode, providing you with an endless supply of battles against up to three AI opponents. There are five terrain types and fifteen different totem powers to unlock (five per element). My only real issue with the game is its locked resolution. While keeping in line with the nostalgia feel, it's quite annoying to be playing on full screen and have to scroll around a small viewing area when the full map could have easily been displayed. Once you start playing on the bigger maps, it gets rather frustrating having to scroll all over the place and makes it harder to manage everything than it has to be. I am not a fan of games that are artificially harder because of (what I perceive as) poor or lazy game design decisions. That being said, the game isn't actually that hard – in fact, it may be a bit too easy. So far I have been able to simply employ the same strategy every match, though I haven't finished all the missions.
Despite my disappointment with the size of the viewable playing area, Reprisal is a fun and engaging game. As with any good god game, it's fun seeing your decisions indirectly affect the game and it's arguably even more fun when your plans inevitably go wrong and you have to scramble to regroup, fix, or work around some newly formed obstacle. In the audio department, Reprisal features a fitting chip tune soundtrack by Eric Skiff. And apart from the music, Reprisal was surprisingly and impressively created by just one man – Jon Caplin.